Reviews ‘n Recs: A Hot Summer of #MM #GoodReads

This summer I’ve lucked out on a bonanza of outstanding genre and literary fiction reads.

Whatever you’re looking for—a feel good romance, a hit of suspense, a frisson of fear, or having your world go askew—one of these authors can provide exactly what you’re in the mood for.

In no particular order:

MARSHALL THORNTON

Marshall Thornton has the unique ability to mix humor, pathos and a fine sense of drama, cut through with action and a soupcon of suspense in his Boystown Series. The latest is Boystown 8: The Lies That Bind staring a PI with enough character flaws to get your blood pumping. Although the series is best read in order, this one has a standalone quality that will satisfy, but why not treat yourself to a truly excellent series? Review HERE.

Also making my list of all time favorite reads is FEMME—a tour de force of humor and sharp observations about the human condition and the differences that can unite us. This book will take you to your happy place. It certainly took me to mine. Review HERE.

BEY DECKARD

Bey Deckard’s Kestral’s Talon (The Stonewatchers) brings together magical realism, myth and legend, all mixing and mingling with elements of fantasy, action-adventure, and increasingly difficult high-stakes games of politics and survival. This story is epic in scope and brilliant in execution. Review HERE.

SANTINO HASSEL

I’ve recommended the Five Boroughs Series in other posts (Sutphin Boulevard, Sunset Park, First and First) but recently I had an opportunity to listen to the audiobook version of Sunset Park, narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo. I loved reading the book, but to hear the voices—so distinct, so well done—it really elevated the experience to a level I wouldn’t have thought possible. In a word… I was mesmerized. Review HERE.

SUSAN MAC NICOL

I am a huge fan of Susan’s Men of London series (along with everything else Susan has written – she’s an auto-buy for me). Her recent Hard Climate was exceptional in that it hit all the right bullet points: great characters, just enough angst, a close call and a wonderful, heartwarming ending. Review HERE.

DEIDRE O’DARE

Deirdre is a new-to-me author and boy howdy, was I ever glad I discovered her. She rocks a short story—The Mule Man—like few authors I’ve encountered: compelling characters, tight knit plot, character growth and development, a balance of description and dialog that provides page turner narrative flow and most important—a doggone rousing story filled with authentic details, location-location-location, and two leads who captured my heart and had me rooting for them from the get go. Review HERE.

MARTIN POUSSON

This is for you literary fiction aficionados. Black Sheep Boy: A Novel in Stories is a stunning literary achievement. The command of language, the exquisite literary flow, the raw images… all simply brought me to my knees. This is a coming of age journey of discovery in a world not designed for you and others like you. It will enrapture and enrage, it will bring you to tears. Of everything I’ve read… ever… this book shall forever hold a very special place in my heart. Review HERE.

Well, there you have it. Lots of good reading to wile away those dog days of summer.

Wishing you peace and love.

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The Joy of Catharsis

Adding new dimensions to who you are…

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Black and white photograph of a woman in a white dress lying on train tracks, for The Joy of Catharsis by Malin James Photograph by Marco Sanges (2011)

I’m kind of an emotional junkie. Whether due to empathy, sensitivity or maladaptation, I tend to feel emotion (both mine and other people’s) really intensely and, every now and then, I like putting myself in the position of feeling something to a nearly painful degree (hello inner sadist).

That said, I prefer the experience to be self-inflicted – breaking my own heart of one thing. Having it broken by someone else is another….unless that someone is a book.

If a book breaks my heart (or makes me giggle until I cry; or scares me so badly that I’m afraid of my own bed), I will love it hard. I will also be really impressed – any author who can effect my cortisol levels is an author I respect.

It’s to do with catharsis. Life requires that I maintain an even emotional keel, which is good…

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Don’t be a Dick

Having been the object of hateful bile on Goodreads, boy howdy I do relate to this. The only difference: I’m not ready to quit. Learn yes, quit no.

Whitney Dineen

#dontbeadick

I’ve recently stumbled into a bit of controversy in my career as a romantic comedy author. A couple of months ago I released an much anticipated sequel to a bestselling book. As a result, some of my fans are infuriated with me, as in spitting, hock-a-loogie mad. As in, “I’m never reading your books again, you horrible woman…” irate.

Every author receives negative views, it’s expected. It’s almost a rite of passage to get your first 1-star review on a new release. Yet I’ve noticed a trend lately. There’s a new nastiness to reviews that didn’t seem to exist before social media became our “go-to” avenue of communication. It’s been a human characteristic since Aesop– familiarity breeds contempt.

Once upon a time, when the only way to communicate with an author, was to write them a letter and send it to their publisher, people didn’t unleash their vitriol so freely…

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Hot Damn! Coming to #Audiobook! Curling Iron (Bad Boyfriends)

It brings me great pleasure to announce that Book 1 in the Bad Boyfriends Series, CURLING IRON, will be available soon as an audiobook. Narrated by the tremendous voice talent, Michael Ferraiuolo, who had me in raptures over his treatment of Santino Hassel’s Sunset Park (see REVIEW), I am over the hill about Michael bringing Kane and David to life.

Curling-Iron-fullCurling Iron (A Bad Boyfriends Novella)

Genre: Romantic comedy, contemporary gay romance

On Sale everywhere for 99c!

Kane runs a fitness center by day. By night, he services a different clientele.

Reviewer says: “Reading this book is like finding a gem in a sea of pebbles, it is that exhilarating and exciting.”~~GGR-Review

 

Kindle    |    ALL ROMANCE/OmniLit    |    B&N    |    Kobo

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Men Reading the Erotic

A very enlightening series and well worth your time.

Emmanuelle de Maupassant

Almost fifty male readers of erotic fiction (some wishing to remain anonymous) have shared their views on how this genre compels them, and how it has shaped their thinking. A significant number of these readers have been so stirred by what they have read that it has inspired their own writing.

You may like to visit the first article in this series, which looks at the motivations of men ‘writing the erotic’.

Erotic fiction explores human experience through the lens of sexual desire. It has the power to move us, to disturb, to confront, to inspire, and to warm us. It goes far beyond titillation. It has the power to examine the psyche in unexpected ways, allowing us to access a realm of paradoxes.

As ever, your comments are welcome.

  

Why Read?

Need a quick ‘sexy fix’? There are plenty of magazines and films to help…

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The 90 Day Rule coming to #Audiobook #SportsRomance

It’s with great pleasure to announce that Jill Arehart has agreed to narrate THE 90 DAY RULE. I’ve been cautiously dipping my toe in the audiobook format, and now that Roman (Saints and Sinners) and Points on a Curve are a wrap, I decided to give one of my earlier works a chance to find a new audience.

To that end I re-edited The 90 Day Rule, and in the process rediscovered how much I love this story about second chances. I can’t want to hear Jes’ tale as told by Jill Arehart

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The 90 Day Rule (Nya Rawlyns)
Sports romance with sass

When playing by the rules means stepping over the line…

Sometimes starting over means trying out assault and battery, especially when the object d’ violence is a cheating husband caught in the act. Restraining orders aside, safety comes in numbers and having certain … standards.

For Jessamine chaos and capitulation are facts of life. Giving up dreams to service her husband’s ambitions and enabling the same blind submission in her own daughter ends abruptly, leaving her rootless, homeless and destitute.

For some people, it is the kindness of strangers who make the difference but for Jes it is the unlikely alliance of the mother-in-law-from-hell, a devastatingly handsome basketball coach and a phalanx of determined team members who convince a woman of a certain age that beginning again doesn’t mean giving up or giving in.

The only problem is … there’s that pesky 90 day rule.

Reviewer says: Who knew the POV of a scorned woman could add a bit of sunshine to this winter reading list? [Nya Rawlyns] latest is a chick-lit confection made up of smart dialogue and the kind of court and spark of every kind that will have fans of romance and sports turning the page.

EXCERPT:

Jack glared at me, our bodies locked in a rigid stand-off, guns cocked, ready to unleash with both barrels.
He answered my unspoken question with one of his own. “When he pressed you, what did you do?”
Huh?
“Roddie. He was all over you. What. Did. You. Do?” Each word was punctuated with latent aggression.
“I pushed back.”
“Exactly.” Jack leaned in, so close it made me afraid. Terrified. Because I knew what was coming.
“You are a force of nature out there, Jes, a warrior. Nothing on God’s earth can stop you when you go after what you want.”
But that was different. It was a game. Just a game. Wasn’t it?
“It’s not just a game. Not to people like us. We live and breathe the same air, Jessamine Cavanaugh.” He stroked my collar bone, his voice ragged and needy. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

AMAZON    |    ARe/OmniLit

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When you bare your soul…

There are times… rare, precious times… when you slip on someone else’s skin and find the fit to be…

…violently authentic, unrelentingly honest. Bearing the pickling sensations of déjà vu and the ghost images of lives lived, lives lost, lives sinking into turmoil.

Penning The Wrong Side of Right was a visceral slog through the mire of self-loathing and ultimate acquiescence to marginalization that defined the main character, Tony Mitchell.

Tony’s world is harsh reality overlaid by brutal honesty, it’s one where lifelines come without safe words, and acceptance of that simple fact is the price of survival.

It’s not an easy read. It’s intensely erotic and disturbing, not for the faint of heart, nor for those for whom the triggers of non-consent, rape, violence and failure to conform to society’s expectations matter.

1044049_432252933549567_1571840113_nTony’s world intersects with Tank’s. Neither world passes muster for those who crave neat and tidy solutions, who expect resolutions where hope figures prominently, where rose-colored glasses define futures cast in familiar molds.

Tank’s world is chaos. Tony slips inside it and when he does, he finally discovers the missing pieces of himself.

Life has a way of providing answers, if you know how to ask the right questions. Tony doesn’t… his are wrong, a nightmare of wrong. To wake up means Tony must break what’s already irretrievably broken.

There are reviewers who “get” it:

Mal (UK Amazon review):

This is a fictional exposé that leaves you with no illusion of how it feels to be on the receiving end of the bullies and defilers of your most holy space, deep in your psyche.

Tony is shattered in more ways than one and by god I was so traumatized I was floored. I wanted to get on my steed and run to rescue him!

Tony is lost, he’s now going to whoever is willing to hold him next, he loses his compass and is pinging around his microcosm with the recklessness of those who’ve been so violated they no longer care, they don’t care if they live or die, they have no self-respect left after what they’ve endured.

This may be an m/m novel with a lot of self-discovery and testing of personal boundaries, but it is a novel everyone should read. The vocabulary is fantastic, the plot mature, insightful, the emotions are so real you will live them as you read this, and like me you will be taken from despair, through trauma, to heartbreak, to that point where you are with Tony when he finally knows what matters. Making society happy isn’t it.

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THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT has a new cover designed by the talented

Bey Deckard who captured the essence of this story.

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Blurb:

Tony Mitchell is a loner who spends most of his life staying low, denying who and what he is until Aiden Caldwell walks into the shop and changes everything. Tony thinks his new supervisor hates his guts, but that doesn’t keep Tony from dreaming and yearning. His fantasies drive him to follow the older man, revealing a secret that only confounds Tony’s obsession.

Conflicted and confused, Tony falls under the spell of a man called Tank who leads Tony down a dark path of seduction and dangerous cravings. Under Tank’s guidance, Tony learns to suspend reality, to succumb. The one thing he doesn’t learn is how to say no.

Aiden Caldwell pulls Tony from the precipice but not from the addiction that threatens to consume the young man.

In the matter of love and trust, can two men intent on hiding their most secret selves find common ground as fate and their own tumultuous pasts conspire to tear them apart?

AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON, FREE on KINDLE UNLIMITED

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Breaking into the International Market #HappyDance #WooHoo

rooster-crowing-2It’s with great pleasure to officially announce that I’ve joined the Me and the Muse Publishing family to bring Curling Iron (Book 1, Bad Boyfriends) to the German market.

I’ve long toyed with the idea of translating my own work but gave that up after I realized my language skills are no longer up to snuff. I’ve been blessed to have fans in Germany follow my work auf Englisch, but how much better to now be able to offer those fans their favorite stories auf Deutsch!

I’m very excited about this new opportunity and can’t thank Sage Marlowe and Me and the Muse Publishing for helping me take the next step in my writing career.

And a bit about Curling Iron (A Bad Boyfriends Novella)

Genre: Romantic comedy, contemporary gay romance, novella

On Sale everywhere for 99c!

Curling-Iron-fullKane leads a double life. By day, he pumps iron, running a fitness center, where jocks and Cougars flock for the burn and the ‘tude. By night, it’s something else entirely that gets pumped, as Kane swaps sweats for Armani to cater to an exclusive clientele, willing to pay well to indulge their special interests and tastes. His double life isn’t a problem until his conniving ex tightens the financial screws.

Finding and retaining suitable companions for his after-dark clients isn’t easy. David Black’s pole dancing performance at a friend’s club hints that he might hit all the bullet points on Kane’s list of requirements, in a way that could mean something other than “just business.”

David is out of work and out of options, so when he’s offered the choice of starvation or performing both on and off the stage, it’s a no-brainer. Kane’s offer of a position with the escort service is as attractive as the man himself, and David agrees to a trial period involving certain conditions. He quickly finds that he’s out of his depth.

Confronted with unanticipated roadblocks both on and off the clock, one thing is clear… neither man is taking no for an answer.

Reviewer says: “Reading this book is like finding a gem in a sea of pebbles, it is that exhilarating and exciting.”~~GGR-Review

UK Reviewer calls it “brilliant.”

BUY LINKS:

Kindle    |    ARe/OmniLit    |    B&N

KOBO    |    APPLE    |    OYSTER

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Another Day of Mourning, or how to radicalize an old broad

e499e1cad03a10b03396a5b4758c9546It’s with a heavy heart that I read about yet more senseless slaughter of innocent victims, including 10 children. A National Holiday. People gathering to celebrate their unity and their inclusion.

How does a man become filled with so much hatred?

I mourn with France.

 

I mourn for us.

I mourn for the disaster looming as the Republicans prepare to dissolve all our hard-won liberties, to effectively gut our constitutional rights.

The platform is not just leaning RIGHT, it’s careening in that direction.

Unwed, pregnant. Fire her ass.

Porn? It’s a public health issue now. Not the rape of our environment, not the poisoning of our food, not the proliferation of guns and violence.

My reproductive system, my identity, my future exist at the whim of male hegemony and male entitlement. Some might call it indentured servitude. I call it what it is… slavery.

Gay? Watch for a conversion therapist in your neighborhood soon.

Trans? Your identity, your safety, all will be forfeit.

Click on that link above, read for yourself. Decide if THIS is a world you want to live in.

I don’t.

The rise of FASCISM will happen in Cleveland, OH next week.

And this is the face FASCISM will wear.

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This face has a horde of followers.

We aren’t fighting one man, we are fighting a war of survival.

rnc-billboards-2016-c5629ff27161bcb2I never thought I’d live to see these times. But apparently I will have to.

Saddle up, Apone.

This old broad ain’t going into the goodnight without getting her licks in.

don quixote

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Now I know how Herself feels

Arthritis runs in the family. My Uncle Art had it in his back and he suffered greatly from it. The first thing you saw was his bent form, not his face or his long, elegant fingers, or the shy kindness of the forever bachelor who had no clue what uncles did, but he tried with the five year old visitor from far away Philadelphia.

My early memories were of a table groaning under the weight of pork and sauerkraut, gravy, mashed potatoes, dumplings and rolls and butter, serving dishes steaming with classic Slovak fare. Crowded together in a lock step march from the head of the table to me, sitting next to my uncle. There was enough to feed an army. Probably two.

He spooned out onto my plate small portions that somehow became a mountain of strange looking, even stranger-smelling, nose-wrinkling, throat-gagging, evil…

Crap. To this day I cannot tolerate the sight or smell of sauerkraut.

649d0bcef11750034827776939d54f65The drive had been eventful and exhausting. There was no Ohio turnpike back then so the trip from Philly to Chicago took 18 hours or so, maybe more. I was little. I had to pee in a jar because… no rest areas. Yes, the struggle was real. I was wedged in the back seat between my maternal grandparents because a trip that momentous required the entire clan participate.

And when we arrived, close to midnight, the over-burdened table was waiting for us, the food kept warm for who knew how long, and I think I threw up but I missed Uncle Art’s lap.

Typical South Side Chicago detached

Typical South Side Chicago detached

Despite that, I still had to taste everything, one bite’s worth, even the vile sauerkraut. I had yet to be indoctrinated into prayer but I’d bought into the guardian angel deal with a natural gift for negotiation, though at that age I had few bargaining chips and a limited imagination. I counted it a win to take a bite, one bite only.

Fortunately that changed over time, those negotiation skills, though they’re more likely split evenly between right and left shoulder nowadays.

So there I was, with the man and his bent back, a man who rarely if ever spoke, letting his sister do all the talking for him, a man I felt some kinship with, a man I saw maybe a half dozen times my entire life, but he left an impression, though I doubt today I’d be able to pick him out of the lineup of the eight Vanasek siblings in the old photos I have.

He kept company with his sister Bertha, neither ever married. Art worked. I was told he had a good job though I don’t think anyone ever said what that might be. Bertha kept the house. So few words, so much of life revealed in a couple terse sentences. Bertha cared for Art until he passed. I think she lived less than a year longer.

We were too far away to attend the funerals, though I visited their grave sites several times over the years, the entire family resting in the Bohemian National Cemetery, including my father.

I too have the arthritis that plagued Art, mostly in my right hand and lower spine. It was merely annoying and painful until I dislocated my right thumb. Putting it back locked it in place. It’s no longer functional, making writing anything damn near impossible. Or try picking up the aspirin I dropped, or a penny.

1533972_699922833374760_846930961_nFirstborn and I always joke about how dangerous Little Miss Mayhem (Herself) would be if she had opposable thumbs. I’m missing one and suddenly I get it. I truly do, so when she stares at me fixedly when dinner time rolls around, I tend to pay attention now.

I get the can and set it down for both of us to contemplate. Her with the delicate furry nubbins, me with one less useful digit to grasp the tab pull and give it a yank to reveal the foul-smelling pate she so favors.

It smells like sauerkraut.

Two odd reasons to remember Art. Two reasons to find peace and solace in shared history, to know that I’m never truly alone. None of us are.

I’ll never regret taking just that one bite…

 

 

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